Living Leisurely in Tang Dynasty Chapter 42

The book is named <<Three Hundred Poems>> and so there were more than 300 pieces to copy and it was impossible to finish the task in a day or two. Besides that, Li Yuanying cannot sit still to complete his punishments in one sitting. And so both children stayed in for days to complete their punishment.

On the day they are done, Dong Xiaoyi just happened to return to the palace and told Yuanying that many people have arrived at Sunflower Garden. Originally, we were only expecting the group we met at the town near the foot of Li Mountain but along the way, many heard the news that they can make a living under Prince Teng and tagged along. When the final group arrived, it grew to more than 300 people. That’s a tenfold increase!

These are 300 people, not 300 livestock and so it cannot be treated lightly. Dong Xiaoyi settled them down into several farms and hurriedly returned to report the matter.

Yuanying had expected that the numbers would be large and was not surprised. In fact, he thought that 300 people was quite small and was expecting more. Since he has told the Emperor his plans, he went ahead to understand the current situation before looking for his eldest nephew to help out.

It was the beginning of March and the flowers and trees in the East Palace were in full bloom. When Li Yuanying strolled past, the Crown Princess and their son Li Xiang was playing in the courtyard.

Seeing Li Yuanying from a distance, the Emperor grandson’s eyes lit up and he ran over with his short legs. He then called in a sweet baby voice: “Yaoyao!”

Given that Li Xiang is just a toddler, he doesn’t understand how seniority works but since both Li Zhi and Li Yuanying are about the same age and he’s been hearing him called “young uncle”, the baby shortened it to “Yaoyao”. All he knows is that this particular Yaoyao brings him delicious food and fun toys to play with.

Seeing Li Xiang running towards him, Li Yuanying half squatted and opened his hands to pick up the toddler: “Oh… you’re heavier now!”

Li Xiang giggled happily.

Li Yuanying took out a small cloth bag with popcorn to satisfy the child’s cravings.

The crown princess is well aware that Li Yuanying and her husband have a good relationship. If he’s here it means it has something to do with Chengqian and so she pointed him in a direction and mentioned that Li Chengqian was listening to Yu Zhining’s lecture in the front hall.

As soon as Li Yuanying heard it, he immediately said that he wouldn’t go. He’ll instead play with Li Xiang.

Yu Zhining is on Li Yuanying’s blacklist. Of course, Yu Zhining thinks the same about him, both do not see eye to eye and are on horrible terms!

A few days ago when the group came back from Li Mountain, Yu Zhining did something incredible: he wrote all his advice for the Crown Prince Li Chengqian into a thick 20-volume book and submit it directly to his Majesty Li Er!

Full 20-volumes with advice (complaints) ranging from serious things like how Li Chengqian is abandoning his duties to go hunting to minor annoyance like how Li Chengqian’s hair is a mess. Every minor detail is written and organized into books!

This is terrifying. Verbal scolding is not enough? You add on by writing articles about scolding that person and after that, you sent it directly to the parent. What can the parent do in such a situation? Of course, thank the teacher for his hard work and then go home and and beat the son!

The more Li Yuanying thought about it, the more he felt that his eldest nephew has a miserable life. That it’s awful to be the Crown prince.  Yuanying asked his men to pay attention to the status of the lecture hall and to alert him when Zhining leaves. For now, he’ll happily play with his grand-nephew.

After a while, updates came that the lecture was over and Li Yuanying return the sweaty and blushing toddler to his mother and ran off to look for his eldest nephew!

Yuanying obviously wants to avoid Yu Zhining but coincidentally Yu Zhining happened to be walking on the same road.

This old man is the type of uptight person who doesn’t even allow one strand of  hair to be messy. Even the wrinkles on his face are long and neat, not messy.

As soon as Yuanying saw him, he wanted to hide. But then he realized that he hasn’t done anything bad so why is he sneaking around?  Thinking about it this way, the boy decided to walk past the person generously.

Yu Zhining presented his book to the Emperor and Li Er specially appointed him to serve as the crown prince’s advisor. Li Yuanying happened to remember this and swaggered up to greet him by shouting: “Minister Yu have you finished your lecture with Chengqian?”

Yu Zhining has heard all about Li Yuanying the infamous little demon king; especially about all his “glorious deeds”.

Since they met by chance, Yu Zhining stroked his beard and sighed: “There’s an old saying that the son of a thousand gold should sit deep inside a hall. Your Highness, you are worth more than a thousand gold, how can you do as the barbarians do and ride on the back of an elephant? What if there was an accident?”

Then Yu Zhining began lecturing the boy all about his profound ideology and started telling him off due to this particular incident.

It was all about: What if you get hurt, how would your friends and family react in sadness. They care and love you, so how can you make them worry like this?

Then the old man dived into explanation about how this would impact society. If everyone doesn’t take care of their bodies, who will cultivate the fields, forge the tools and fight the enemy? As a member of the royal family, you should lead by example and never put yourself in danger just for fun!

Li Yuanying was dumbfounded.

This old man is almost a hundred years old, but he’s still full of energy when he speaks. He goes on and on, not needing to stop for a breather.

Hearing till the end, Li Yuanying’s scalp was already numb. He hurriedly responded: “I know, I know!  You must also be tired from teaching Chengqian, so please go back and rest first!”

Yu Zhining nodded in satisfaction and left gracefully.

Li Yuanying found his eldest nephew, sat down and drank all the water given to him and said to Chengqian in shock: “Chengqian, you really work so hard.”

Chengqian has only managed to catch up with Li Yuanying once after he returned from Li Mountain. All he knew was that Sun Simiao has treated the Emperor but his condition is kept top secret. After that, Li Yuanying went to Li Jing’s house to ride an elephant and was punished for it.

Sensing the lingering fear on his face, Chengqian asked: “What’s wrong?”

Yuanying told him about his encounter with Yu Zhining and looked at him with great sympathy: “I don’t know how you can live like this!” Just one Yu Zhining is so scary, what more you have add ons of Kong Yingda and Zhang Xuansu. Just thinking about it is terrifying.

Recently, Chengqian has been worried about the physical condition of His Majesty and has stopped messing around so much, thus his scolding went down. The worst was when it became a little unbearable when Li Er threw a 20-volume book of complaints about him.

“Is the elephant in Duke Wei’s house bigger than the one in the palace?” (Chengqian)

There are also some rare birds and animals in the palace belonging to the Emperor. If the children wanted to observe them they are free to do so. It’s just that no one is as daring as Li Yuanying to climb onto an elephant and ride it.

As soon as this topic came up, Li Yuanying regained his energy and told Chengqian all about his adventure. He longs for adventure but could only hear about it and not experience it himself. He sighed to Chengqian: “I think the south is interesting, the north too. Things in the east and west should be exciting too! It’s a pity that it’s too far away and I cannot go there myself!”

Li Chengqian originally only thought that Yuanying’s stories were vivid and interesting but hearing him, he also felt that it was a shame. He then said: “That’s easy! I’ll find some people to escort you to places to play next time.”

Chengqian continued and also shared his past experiences. He likes to hang out with the Turks the most as he feels that they are easygoing. When you hunt with them it makes you feel like you are also raised in the grassland. Sometimes when he feels that the East Palace is too lonely, he’ll invite them over for a fun time. The bonfire would rise along with singing and dancing for as long as they wanted.

“If you are interested, I’ll get someone to bring in a group of elephants. Then let’s get the southerners and their elephants and the Turks on the horses to have a performance. The only roadblock is that such a big event will need to be held outside the East Palace. Let’s go outside!” (Chengqian)

Li Yuanying got excited and his eyes brightened: “Really?”

“Of course.” (Chengqian)

But after Chenqian finished speaking, he quickly remembered what happened last time when Li Yuanying casually ratted him out. “But be strict in keeping your mouth shut and don’t let the plan leak out. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to attend.”

Hearing this Yuanying immediately assured him: “I will never tell the Emperor!”

Li Chengqian then asked why is he here today.

Yuanying told Chengqian about his plan to take in refugees. He has already mentioned this to Chengqian before and the crown prince has promised to find more places for them to settle down if the existing villages cannot accomodate all of them.

Chengqian was a little surprised to hear that there were 300 people. While 300 is not a huge number, it’s enough to occupy an entire village.

“I didn’t expect there to be so many homeless people within the Capital City.” (Chengqian)

Now they have a home. I’m able to accommodate them into my farms.” (Yuanying)

He explained the basic situation to his nephew. “The young and middle-aged laborers and women are versatile enough to do most jobs. I’ve already instructed Dong Xiaoyi to count the numbers. But there are also those who are old and young children. These groups will not be able to do much hard labour. Since I’m not short on manpower, the older ones can do lighter jobs like cooking. As for the kids, I have a new idea.”

“What new idea?” (Chengqian)

“I want to build a big academy in my fief, so don’t I need lots of literate people? Even if it’s just people to sort scrolls by genre, they still can’t be illiterate. Half of these 300 people are under the age of ten, so they should go to school first. After one or two years of study, they should be able to recognize characters and do basic math. For those who are willing and able to continue further studies then let them do so. For those who are not able, they do still have hands and feet to work. With houses and fields provided to them, their life wouldn’t be too bad.”

“It’s a good idea.”

But Yuanying continued shyly: “But I have a huge problem, I don’t know many scholars. If I were to ask them to help teach these children, I’m afraid they would kick me out. I’m wondering if Chengqian, the crown prince who knows many is willing to help me. If you tell them, they will definitely promise to recommend some suitable candidate who can do the job!” He then held Chengqian’s hand tightly and said earnestly “Lord Brother said that we should do this together, Chengqian, you need to put effort into this plan too!”

Chengqian wanted to say that “I don’t know many scholars either,” but he couldn’t say such a thing to Li Yuanying who had bright eyes looking at him.

As the crown prince, how can he be so useless that he can’t even gather a few scholars?

Chengqian nodded and accepted the task entrusted to him by Li Yuanying.

Li Yuanying was not in a hurry to leave. He was greatly inspired by Yu Zhining’s speech just now and wanted to continue discussing the tactics for the recruitment of teachers.

This recruitment speech cannot be done modestly for it will demotivate people from wanting to help the beggars and homeless people. It must be done on a grand scale, we need to fluff it up and make the speech grand and touching. First, we must say that although the great Tang Empire is strong, it’s regretful that so many people still suffer. Then, we need to praise this initiative as something that will set precedence to the world. This small step is a big step for Tang Dynasty. So great that even the future descendants will remember their names!

After Li Yuanying finished talking about his grand idea, he looked at Chengqian earnestly: “Chengqian, you read more than me, so you must already be able to write great articles. Can you quickly write an article based on what I just shared? Make it so that as soon as I read it, I’ll be so moved that I burst into tears and be inspired to rush to do it even without money!”

Seeing his young uncle looking at him with such high expectations, how could Chengqian be honest and say that he too didn’t like writing articles?

Of course, that’s not possible. Li Chengqian could only ask that ink be prepared while he writes the article under Yuanying’s watchful eyes and to write it according to the boy’s wishes.

Li Yuanying can’t write the article, but he can read it. Once Chengqian wrote a paragraph, he’ll read it and actively encouraged his nephew. After all, it costs no money to flatter him. He kept saying “Wow, this paragraph is exquisitely written.” “Chengqian, you’re really wonderful, you write very well.”

Li Chengqian was silent, even though he didn’t know Li Yuanying’s literacy level, he still felt like he was a reincarnation of the constellation in charge of literary works! [1]in the raw it’s written as wén qǔ xīng the fourth star in the big dipper known as the constellation in charge of knowledge & examinations

References

References
1 in the raw it’s written as wén qǔ xīng the fourth star in the big dipper known as the constellation in charge of knowledge & examinations

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